As Mumbai Indians went down on the final ball against Royal challengers bangalore, there was a feeling that Rohit Sharma had his hands tied to an extent with just five bowling options. Trent Boult and Rahul Chahar were expensive but the other bowlers managed to drag things till the very end.
Chris Lynn felt more than a tactical error – where Rohit didn’t use either Hardik Pandya or Kieron Pollard – it was more about the execution errors that cost them the game. Hardik’s bowling workload has been on India’s agenda for a while after his return from back surgery. Hardik bowled 17 overs during the five-match T20I series against England and was only called to bowl in the final ODI where he sent down nine overs. Now even MI are cautious about how they manage the all-rounder.
“Hardik, as a whole package, is always of great value,” MI’s Director of Cricket operations, Zaheer Khan, said. “It was a workload related thing in the previous game. He bowled nine overs in the England series. In consultation with the physio, we had to take that approach. There was a little bit of a shoulder concern but it is not worrisome. You will see him bowl very soon. The timeline you will have to ask the physio. In terms of Hardik the bowler coming in this tournament, we are confident that he will be chipping in with the ball in his hand as well.”
Zaheer, however, also clarified that Rohit isn’t going in with limited options into the game. “Pollard is our sixth bowling option,” he pointed out. “He is consistent, he is an experienced campaigner.
“Whenever Hardik is available, he will start bowling, he will be our bowling option as well. In that department, we are not very concerned. You have to just adapt and adjust. This year’s format is a different format. So from that point of view, we need to have that adaptability and flexibility around the squad as well, with not playing in your home grounds, which is what we accept and plan accordingly for the season ahead.”
With Quinton de Kock now out of quarantine and available for selection, MI will have a selection decision to make ahead of their match against Kolkata Knight Riders. Chris Lynn made an impressive 49 in the match against RCB and will have to sit out if MI decide to bring in de Kock. “We will take the decision closer to the game,” Zaheer said. “Lynn is a pro. You’ve seen his press conference and his dressing room chat as well. He is a good character to have around the dressing room, joking about everything.
He was jokingly saying that “am I going to get the next game or no? As professional athletes you have to be prepared, you have to align yourself with how the team management is thinking. Communication is going to be the key. So on the communication part, we are going to be clear. When you’re part of a good team, a champion side, you have to wait for your opportunities and that’s something that the whole group is aware of.
“We are very excited with Marco as well. When you see a youngster like Marco going out there and making an impact. We have all been there, in our first games, it is a big occasion. Now he has managed to relax because he made a good comeback in that game.”
Apart from the clash against KKR, MI have three more matches in Chennai – against Delhi Capitals, Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals before they move their base to Delhi for four more games.